Half a Mile Square Burned Over at Three Rivers.
Three Rivers, Que., is one of lower Canada’s oldest cities and is full of historical memories. It is also in great measure a wooden city, with its buildings spread over an area of 800 acres, its older portion, however, forming the heart of the city and its business centre, is a mass of oldfashioned buildings, all lying close to each other and covering over half a mile square. Of it nothing remains but ruins, with here and there a tall brick chimney standing by itself. The fire broke out about noon on June 22 and, spreading very rapidly, wiped out five banks, eleven hotels, and practically eleven business streets, with all their commercial buildings, all the drygoods stores and factories, leaving only an edging of a poorer class of residences. The old parish church, originally built in 1664, and rebuilt in 1714 is completely gutted, although the walls are still standing. Near the church is the Custom House, also in ruins. It, too, was historic, having been used as barracks in the early colonial days. The Ursuline convent was saved. All the buildings round the Anglican church were destroyed; but the church itself remained undamaged, as did, also, the Methodist church. The jail was right in the burning area, but, although it was in danger up to the last, it was saved and not one of the 100 prisoners escaped. Besides those already mentioned, the other principal buildings in the city that were destroyed included those of the Bell Telephone company, the Great Northwestern, Dominion and Canadian Express buildings, and the main banking buildings, including the Hochelaga, Quebec, and Provincial. The post-office was also burned. Three Rivers Members of the Eightyfifth regiment and the Eleventh Argenteuil Rangers, who had arrived for summer camp, did heroic work in helping the firemen, and saving life. Later on they policed the city. No lives were lost; but three persons were badly injured. At least a thousand persons, however, were rendered homeless and $1,000,000 worth of damage was done. The Three Rivers fire department is full paid, but is not strong numerically, having under a dozen members. It trusts altogether to chemical extinguishers, of which it has about a dozen, and hydrant streams (fire-pressurt put down as from 140 to 160 lb.). It has two hook and ladder trucks, three hose carriages, about 3,600 ft. of good cotton rubber-lined and rubber hose. An electric fire-alarm system is installed with nine or ten boxes, and it has two horses in service. The underwriters rate its protection as fourth-class. A high wind handicapped considerably the work of the firefighters, who would have been powerless, had they not obtained help on special trains from Montreal, Quebec, Sherbrooke and Grand Mere. The flames were finally held in check. Practically up to that time the 1,000 soldiers and an amateur bucket brigade did nearly all the work. The narrow streets and the inflammable nature of many of the buildings in the path of the blaze rendered the task of the firemen an almost impossible one. Outside the town is the camp of the Sixth military district, and soon after the fire started 1.000 men were sent to help fight the flames. The local department was entirely ineffective when it came to coping with a conflagration, and the soldiers rendered the best assistance they could; but their bucket-brigade was not equal to the task. The absence of an efficient command also militated against their efforts, and not until nearly four hours after the fire had assumed threatening dimensions was any organised effort by the firefighters from the other cities available.